BY KALU EZIYI, Umuahia
The Abia State commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu has denied that the government entered into agreement with any worker’s union in the state for the members to forfeit their unpaid salary arrears.
Kalu spoke to newsmen while reacting to a protest organized by staff of the state Hospitals Management Board (HMB) over alleged non-payment of their 14-months salary arrears in Umuahia, the state capital.
Expressing surprise over the said forfeiture agreement, he added that like obtained in other states, parastatals such as the board are semi autonomous and always receive subventions from government.
The staff, who carried placards with different inscriptions claimed that they had not been their salaries since January, 2019 even after the government had promised to settle the arrears.
Some of the placards which were either at the board headquarters, reag, “Pay Us Our 14-Month Salary Arrears, HMB Staff are Dying, All We are Saying Pay Us Our Salaries and 14 Months are not 14 Days”.
Speaking to newsmen, the chairman of the Joint Action Committee of the eight labour unions, Comrade Echeta Chigozie said they would not back down of the protest until their demand is met.
His words, “The most painful aspect is that before any payment is made, we’ll be subjected to terrible pains that will lead some of us to shed tears. We want them to pay us our salaries because we’re in pains right now.”
Chigizie further stated that the workers had presented their demand to the state House of Assembly, but lamented that the House, despite their pleadings refuse to take action on their request.
“They keep telling us that there’s no money and that we’re given subventions to run our parastatal, while in actual fact, they’ve stopped the subvention to our parastatals since 2015 “, he noted.
“The sick amongst us including our children can no longer be treated, our children equally cannot feed and whenever schools reopen, they may not be sent to schools”, he lamented.